Discover This project features three associated projects.

Viljo Revell’s Toronto City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square (1965) is a well-loved Modernist icon. Completed after his death, the heritage-designated square was true to the spatial arrangement Revell had envisioned; over time, however, it had become run-down and dysfunctional. In 2006, the City of Toronto launched an international competition to redesign NPS. The winning design strategically rethinks the Square to transform it into an exemplary 21st-Century public space, drawing inspiration from Revell’s own references to classical Athenian political spaces. Through the redesign or relocation of existing elements and a new series of buildings and gardens framing the open plaza, the NPS Revitalization enhances the functionality, versatility, and appeal of Toronto’s signature civic space while augmenting this monumental heritage site’s “connectedness” to its surroundings.

View of the stage from the elevated walkways
View of the theatre at midday
The theatre at dusk

Revell’s elevated walkways frame the Square and focus views towards the council chamber – as in the Athenian agora, the threshold of a porch (stoa) at the perimeter clearly defined the interior void. This definition was never fully developed, however, in NPS as built. To strengthen the coherence of the Square, the design team executed four tactical moves:

  1. Open the Square – remove clutter at the centre to accommodate all kinds of large cultural gatherings
  2. Create programmed, porous, landscaped “green rooms” around the perimeter to frame the square
  3. Create new activated connections between the raised walkway and the Square
  4. Strengthen links between levels and between zones using new architecture as the bridge to connect the two levels of the square
Disappearing fountains
Stage and skate pavilion align to frame the square

Major architectural components include the redesigned Skate Pavilion and creation of a permanent Stage with back-of-house suspended below in the parking garage. All new structures are multi-purpose and connect to the walkways. The glass-canopied, terraced form of the theatre provides covered public space and casual seating when not in use for performances, and its stairs connect the raised walkway to the Square. Small events can take place with performers facing westward toward stairs that double as bleacher seating; for larger events, those on the stage face eastward to overlook the entire Square.

The skate pavilion in the summer
Skate pavilion upper level terrace · Photo: Steven Evans Photpgraphy
Skate pavilion breezeway
The skate pavilion with overlooks onto the square

A Peace Garden added in 1983 near the centre of the Square had compromised the space’s openness and ability to accommodate crowds – relocating it to the western edge freed up the Square’s centre for larger events. The terraced seating of the new Peace Garden is a major structure that conceals the underground parking garage’s exhaust duct while muffling its sound and redirecting the airflow. Other elements include a playground redesign, a new Sculpture Garden, a new forecourt along Queen Street, and a future two-storey restaurant. Although not yet completed, the master plan includes refurbishing the existing elevated walkways with gardens and seating.

Peace garden
Peace garden at night
Playground
Queen Street streetscape

Prior to the revitalization, City Hall’s podium was a grim, paved void: it is now Toronto’s largest publicly accessible green roof, a popular urban retreat for sitting and strolling. The Podium Roof Garden’s plantings, which change seasonally from bright yellows and oranges in the southwest to deep reds and purples in the northeast, were chosen to thrive in the site’s challenging shade and wind conditions.

Podium roof garden · Photo: Peter Schaudt
The Podium green roof from above
The garden in fall
The garden in spring · Photo: Gabriel Li
Skate pavilion breezeway
Stair beacons
Entry to the sculpture garden
Nuit Blanche (the next day) · Photo: Steven Evans Photograpy

  1. A Conversation of Views
  2. Admiral Road Garden
  3. Airdrie Road Garden
  4. Airdrie Road Residence
  5. Albany Avenue Residence
  6. Alcina Garden
  7. Alexandra Park
  8. Aporia Records
  9. Ardwick Townhouses
  10. Asphalt Poetry
  11. – Poem
  12. Baby Point Gardens
  13. Beach Garden
  14. Beach Village BIA Master Plan
  15. Beaty Residence
  16. Bennington Heights Garden
  17. Berkeley Street Residence
  18. Bin-Scarth Garden
  19. Blink and you miss it.
  20. – Poem
  21. Block 22 Landscape
  22. Bloor St. Apartment
  23. Blue Note
  24. Booth Avenue Residence
  25. Boustrophedon Garden
  26. Braemore Gardens Residence
  27. Browning Avenue Residence
  28. Brunswick Avenue Residence
  29. Camp Arowhon Offices
  30. Canadian Firefighters Memorial
  31. Channelled Buried Moved Lost
  32. Chocolate Loft
  33. City Instrument
  34. Clarendon Garden
  35. Conversation Piece
  36. Cortleigh Boulevard Garden
  37. Creemore Farm
  38. Danforth Mosaic BIA Master Plan
  39. Dickson Park Garden
  40. Dilworth Residence
  41. Don Landing Revitalization
  42. Dublin Grounds of Remembrance
  43. Duncanwoods Townhouses
  44. Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden
  45. Dupont-by-the-Castle BIA
  46. East Point Bird Sanctuary
  47. Eglinton Ave Forecourt
  48. Eglinton Park Master Plan
  49. Elizabeth Fry Society
  50. Ellsworth Residence
  51. Face to Face | Tête à Tête
  52. First Avenue Garden
  53. First Avenue Residence
  54. Flyover Canada
  55. Foote’s Pond Wood
  56. Forest Hill Village Streetscape
  57. Gaze, Glimpse, Glance
  58. Global Affairs Monument
  59. Goldring Landscape, University of Toronto
  60. Gormley Garden
  61. Governor's Bridge Lookout
  62. Greener P
  63. Greer Road Garden
  64. Greer Road Residence
  65. Guelph Bridge
  66. Head in the Clouds
  67. Helena Ave Residence 4
  68. Jackman Institute for Childhood Studies
  69. Jean Tweed Addition + Laneway House
  70. Junction Craft Brewery
  71. Kelpies Competition
  72. Kew Gardens Streetscape
  73. King's Landing Apartment
  74. Kipling & Islington Developments
  75. Lakeport Beach Neighbourhood
  76. Le jardin du repos
  77. Lenticular Curtain
  78. Leslie Slip Lookout Park
  79. Liberty Village Parkettes
  80. Liza’s Garden
  81. Lynwood Garden
  82. Macroscape
  83. Makwa Waakaa'igan
  84. Markham Garden One
  85. Markham Street Residence Two
  86. Massey College Landscape Restoration
  87. May Street Ravine
  88. Midtown Yonge Streetscape
  89. Mount Dennis Parkettes
  90. Mulock Park
  91. Nathan Phillips Square
  92. – Streetscape
  93. – Peace Garden
  94. – Podium Roof Garden
  95. Noel Garden
  96. Octane Medical Campus
  97. Orchard View Garden
  98. Osgoode Atkinson Green Competition
  99. Owl Cottage
  100. Paperstone Scissors
  101. Pendrith Residence
  102. Peripheral Sitings
  103. Pottery Road Crossing
  104. rare
  105. Ravine Forecourt
  106. Ribbon of the Lower Don
  107. Riverside BIA Master Plan
  108. Roxborough Garden One
  109. Roxborough Garden Two
  110. Schulich School of Business
  111. Sheridan College
  112. – Trafalgar Campus Master Plan
  113. Spadina Quay Wetland
  114. St. Anne's Road Garden
  115. St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts
  116. Stratford Market Square Competition
  117. Stratford Patterson Theatre Competition
  118. Superkids Dental
  119. Superlegible
  120. Sweet Farm
  121. Sweet Farm Pond House
  122. Swift Medical Offices
  123. The Meadows Reconsidered
  124. The Red Sash
  125. Thick & Thin
  126. Thistletown II Townhouses
  127. Tipping Point
  128. TMU Centre for Urban Innovation
  129. TMU Science Building
  130. Tranby Garden
  131. Tree House Residence
  132. UBC Okanagan – The Commons
  133. UHN Tunnels
  134. University of Toronto Mississauga Welcome Centre
  135. Venice Biennale 2012
  136. Vermont Square Park
  137. Vernon Avenue Garden
  138. Walk the Walk
  139. Walmer Road Residence
  140. Welland Canal Fallen Workers Memorial
  141. Wellesley Cottages Garden
  142. Wells Street Residence
  143. Westminster Residence
  144. Weston Village BIA Masterplan
  145. With Words as Their Actions
  146. Woodlawn Avenue Residence
  147. Woven Stories
  148. Wynford Drive Residences
  149. York Park
  150. Yorkwoods Townhouses